Tiger Point Sports Association, an organization that promotes recreational sports programs at Tiger Point Park, has just launched a first-of-its-kind program to help foster kids in Santa Rosa County participate in youth sports.
Tiger Point Sports Association president, Phillip Godwin, said the program, part of a partnership with Gulf Coast Foster Bridge, aims to cover participation and equipment costs through community support.
“Youth sports have a tremendous impact on children,” said Godwin. “Through sports, children make friends and memories that last a lifetime. Unfortunately, many foster families are unable to afford the cost of registration and equipment to participate. Creating opportunities for foster children and families in our area to play sports is achievable when we come together as a community. As a youth sports organization, we can think of no better way to live our vision and purpose than this initiative.”
Becky Slaymaker, Executive Director of Gulf Coast Foster Bridge, said the need in our area is great, and foster families are overwhelmed.
“There are about 100 kids in foster care in Santa Rosa County alone,” said Slaymaker. “Many of our foster families have 3 to 4 foster kids in their homes, in addition to their own children. So many of those children have wanted to participate in sports but the stipend from the state is not enough to cover the costs.”
The state provides a stipend of about $13 per day per child for all living expenses. The cost to participate in the recreational league — including equipment — is more than $100 per sport per child.
Slaymaker, who sits on the board of the Tiger Point Sports Association with Godwin, approached the board with the idea to ask the community to help sponsor foster families.
“Phillip did not hesitate,” said Slaymaker. “When I told him of our need, his company, SESCO Lighting, stepped up to be the first to participate — with a few more coming forward to help, we can make sure every foster family has the opportunity to participate in sports.”
Foster mom Tiffany Cross said the cost of caring for foster children continues to increase.
“As a foster family, we have 4 – 6 kids on any given day,” said Cross “and some families have 6 – 9 kids. With the cost of everything skyrocketing, it’s harder to put kids in sports and other extracurricular activities. These kids deserve to participate just as much as any others but with groceries, utilities and other expenses, normal foster families are tapped. We know sports are so important for kids’ developing self-esteem, learning responsibility, respect for authority and learning teamwork. Also, it provides another positive adult role model for the child.”